Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

This one is an easy one especially since I've not had breakfast yet. I love doing what we call 'big breakfast'. A breakfast/brunch buffet is pure heaven for me. My husband doesn't eat eggs so we are limited in our options at home. I'd eat breakfast every morning in a little diner if my metabolism and my wallet could handle it.

 10 Favorite Breakfast Foods

  1.  Bacon- Like this was even a question. Bacon makes everything taste better. That's why it is the candy of meats. 
  2. Eggs Benedict- love them. Have them rarely because they are such a pain to make. My favorite varation had smoked salmon instead of the ham. Pure Heaven. 
  3. Soft scrambled eggs. There is a trick to doing them just right, but when the are....mmmmmm. Top them with a little Frank's Hot Sauce, salt and maybe some cheese and scallions.
  4.  French Toast- Both plain and the stuffed variety we do. (It's stuffed with cream cheese and jam)
  5. Scones- all kinds...sweet or savory. 
  6. Fried eggs, sunny side up. Love my runny yokes. 
  7. Hash browns- I much prefer these over home fries. Don't really know why, just do. Make them nice and crispy. 
  8. Corned beef Hash- the little diner near us does their hash from scratch. LOVE IT. Again keep it on the griddle until it's nice and crispy.
  9. Smoked salmon- Not just for bagels and cream cheese and capers, but also with eggs. We became very spoiled during our honeymoon in Alaska with the HUGE platter of smoked salmon at the breakfast buffet every day. 
  10. Fresh fruit- of any kind. I really love fresh fruit at breakfast. It's a good counter balance if having a large heavy breakfast or a nice compliment to a light one. 
I must add my list of beverages....Tea is a must. Usually a black tea in the morning, though will go green if the fare is lighter. And coffee. I only seem to really drink coffee in the morning if we are doing a big meal....or I need it for work. And a juice of some sort.I'm not married to the traditional orange. I usually like a good cranberry juice.

I've been a tad silent of late. Work is kicking my arse....as well as my legs and hands and arms. Last week was spent entirely laying out a floor full of scenery. Forced perspective buildings with lots and lots of windows. And now I am painting them...in the style of pen and ink drawings. Very tedious. And surprisingly tiring.
But (!) I had a amazingly productive weekend and took pictures. Let's just say the new sewing set-up is really working out.

 Now back to tiny brushes and black paint.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

10 Favorite Moments from 2013

2013 has been a rough year but there have been a few bright moments:

  1. Discovering that I would be able to go back on my original MS treatment. I was devestated last January with my tests came back positive for the virus antibodies that put me at risk of a potentially fatal infection while under this treatment. A short while later it was discovered that it was more than just a matter of positive or negative, but a scale of positive. I was tested and my numbers were among the lowest they had yet seen (very good news). Actually with numbers so low I could revert back to negative. After my new treatment failed to be all that we hoped, we decided to put me back on the infusions. I've had two so far. I'm not back to feeling as well as I had when I went off of it, but I am hopeful. 
  2. Walking down Main Street with my family to the ice cream shop and Little Dude is randomly humming The Imperial March. A perfect stranger at a sidewalk cafe overheard and erupted into laughter. He totally made her day. The Geek is strong with this one. 
  3. Getting Little Dude into the magnet school of our choice and him starting kindergarten. And what did he wear on his first day of school?? The sweater that I knitted for him.
  4. Got our first plot in the community garden. It wasn't a complete success but I think we'll be doing it again. 
  5. My daughter exclaiming "These shoes match my dress!" in regards to the Cinderella shoes that I picked up from Target and the dress I had made her for Halloween. She wears the shoes every night when we read bedtime stories. (Don't ask. I don't know.)
  6. My husband and I reaching out 11th wedding anniversary. 
  7. Last February I was a covergirl for our local chapter of the National MS Society. ( Go here to check it out and then click 'Spring 2013'.) And my neurologist will never let me forget it. 
  8.  I was asked to cut the ribbon at the MS Walk in April, and Little Dude helped me.
  9. We made tremendous strides in potty training in our house.
  10. And this conversation:
Little Miss noticed my stained glass TARDIS  and started talking about Dr. Who at dinner one night.
Me: Do you want to be the Doctor's companion when you get bigger?
Little Miss: No. I want to be a Dalek.
Little Dude: People don't turn into Daleks. They just get zapped by the Daleks. Cybermen turn people turn people into other Cybermen.
Husband: *turning to me* Are you training them?!?
 So there it is. And hoping that for next year we all will have too many favorite moments to count.

Monday, January 06, 2014

In the Ear

Back to work again (hopefully for real this time) and that means back to my iPod. I spend most of my day off in my own corner of the shop. I've been here over 5 years at this point. I reached a point with listening to the radio...you can only hear the same songs day after day for so long before it drives you batty. And then my shop radio died. Enter in the iPod. It's just an old 3rd generation Nano but it does what I want. I initially requested an mp3 player so I could listen to audiobooks. I was given an iPod, which is a very nice gift, but at the time it wasn't compatable with the library's audiobooks. So it sat tucked away until Apple and whomever worked their issues out. Now that thing is stuck in my ears nearly every minute that I am at work.

I started with audiobooks but then after a while I found that what was available at the library didn't quite interest me. Enter the Podcast. 

When I find a new podcast I will go back and download the entire catalog and listen from the beginning. Unfortunately my iPod doesn't like to cooperate with that kind of listening and will only list then from the newest first, meaning I have to click over after every episode. First world problems, I know, but it can be an issue when I am elbow deep in texture goop. Warning, podcast listening can start a chain reaction and you can quickly have a listening queue as big as your stash. I'll often find other podcasts from the ones I am listening to and then it goes from there.

These people have become my friends. They are the ones I spend my days with and make me laugh, make me think and just generally make my days pleasant. So here are a few of my favorites.

Craft Lit -Heather Ordover has found a fabulous formula for podcasting. She is probably the strongest single host cast that I listen to. She carries it so well. First you have a little bit of crafting talk and then onto the literature. All public domain works enhanced with Heather's enlightening bits of history, explanations of archaic language or context and just wonderful general commentary on the books. Here are some of the books I've listened to on this show:
  • The Age of Innocence
  • Gulliver's Travels
  • Jane Eyre 
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
  • Flatland
  • The Women in White
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Dracula
  • Frankenstein
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Persuasion
  • Little Women
  • The Scarlett Letter
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Turn of the Screw
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  • Tristan and Isolde
Quite a list, no? I don't think I ever would have read (listened to) A Tale of Two Cities on my own. And I loved it. She's helped me realize just how much I love Dickens. I've even stuck around through the books I didn't enjoy quite as much (Connecticut Yankee and Turn of the Screw). I find myself talking to her while I listen (as if she could magically hear me) because the whole thing is done in such a conversational manner. I'm getting the subscription for my birthday because Bleak House is one of my all time favorite books.

ChopBard- Shakespeare is another love of mine, and never before have I been witness to it being done so well. I'm recommending this to all the people who have high schoolers. This is a fabulous way to introduce them to the Bard, and foster a life long love of his works. Ehern doesn't go for the over thought, pretentious interpretations. He shows us what is there and gives us the tools and the opportunity to interpret it for ourselves. I also like his looking at it from an actor's perspective. Being of the theatre myself, it speaks to me. Found him through CraftLit.

Rex Factor- I found this one through ChopBard. (it is an endless cycle). A wonderful review of all the kings and queens of England. I love me some history, especially when it is done with such fun flair. I had a professor who taught in this fashion and I took every class of his I could. After a bit of biography they rate the monarch on Battleyness, Scandal, Subjectivity, Longevity and Dynasty and then decide if they possess the 'Rex Factor'. I'm sad that they've now reached the end. (Personally I think they should keep going with other countries and/or the Popes)

Brass Needles- One of the first podcasts I started listening to. It has the mixture of knitting and geekery that I enjoy. First half is crafting, second is anything from sci-fi movies/tv/books, to cosplay to steampunk to whatever suits her fancy. She recently had a baby so the schedule has been a little erratic.

Knitmore Girls- Found these lovely ladies from Brass Needles above. A mother and daughter podcasting duo. I love these ladies. They remind me of me and my mum. And they may be single handedly responsible for pushing me to up my knitting game (once I get the energy again). Their book reviews are honest and informative. I'm constantly running over to my computer to look up a pattern or a yarn while listening to them. I've learned a lot of great information. They cover knitting, spinning, sewing and much, much more.

Knit1Geek2-I could totally see me hanging out with the ladies who host this podcast. Knitting and geekery galore. This is the podcast that pushed me down the Dresden Files rabbit hole. Each episode is filled with knitting/crafting, geek culture and other things to crush on. These Canadian ladies can get a little rowdy, so not for those who like their podcasting prim and proper. Just my kind of girls.

Geek Girl Crafts- One of my early podcasts as well. They have turned me onto some really good books. I do have a few issues with the show but not enough to stop listening.

SteamGeeks- I found these guys searching searching for steampunk podcasts and found so much more. Hosted by The League of S.T.E.A.M, this show covers topics related to steampunk, such as history, cosplay, artists and craftspeople in the community. They also have fabulous product reviews (a must listen if you like any kind of spirituous beverages). A fun group and I'm glad they are back from their hiatus.

The Ratchet Retrocast- I found this one after a join podcast they did with SteamGeeks. They examine popculture with the caveat that it must be at least 20 years old. The added bonus is that one of the hosts is only in her early 20's so some of this is a first time adventure to her. It's like living the best parts of my childhood all over again. They are a part of the Earth Station One network.

Earth Station Who- Another Earth Station One gem. All Dr. Who. A fabulous look at both the classic series and the revival. I loved how they went through all the Doctors by looking at their first and last episode. Now that I am caught up on the new series I can listen to the rest of the archives.

Stuff You Missed in History Class- I think I stumbled upon this one from mentions by the Knitmore Girls. Short episodes focusing on random bits of history. For a history geek like me, this is perfect. And it just makes me want to read more about a hundred different things.

Masters Cast-So this is where I really so my geek. Yes. This is a podcast about He-man and She-ra. Yes. I am a geek and I love the toys from my childhood. They cover everything from the new toy releases (yes, they are still making He-man figures, but more for the collector), comics, and the various cartoons involving He-man and She-ra.

So there is an incomplete (!) list of what is typically in my ears on an average work day.

I must to bed. This has been a lot of typing and the amount of red squiggles accompanying my words (thank you spellcheck) tell me that I've extended my personal bandwidth for the day.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

On the Reading table

One of the contributers to my lack of posting last year that I've fallen back into reading. For some reason I find I read more in the summer. Perhaps it's the whole, 'too hot to knit' thing. It also helps that we've been going to the library quite a bit. Our library has an excellent Children's department, and we end up there most Saturdays.

The majority of my reading time has been indulging in the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. I'm a big lover of urban fantasy, and this series has everything I love. The Dresden Files is a mix of magic and film noir with probably one of the most wonderful protagonists I've seen in a while. I'd been aware of the series for a while, but after listening to Knit 1 Geek 2 talk about it, I figured it was time to check it out.

I finished the first book in one day. (Sometimes it pays to be bed-ridden with illness) I'm 10 books into the series and it never disappoints. Unlike many series, it is not formulaic at all. I never know what to expect. The normal exposition that comes with such a series is not as painful as in some others that I have encountered. The protagonist is Harry Dresden, a professional wizard living and working in modern day Chicago. And you can't go wrong with an amazing cast of characters, one of my favorites being Bob, a skull inhabited by an intelligent spirit who has a penchant for romance novels and the personality of a dirty old man.

 I must admit that the Dresden Files make up most of the non-audio books I have consumed over the last year, but not surprising considering I'm on book 10. Some other books I've had in hand are:

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
I was turned onto this from another podcast, CraftLit. I love fresh bread and I miss all the little Italian bakeries from back home. The idea is that you mix up the dough, keep it in the fridge and over the course of two weeks cut off what you need and bake it. Easy-peasy. The first two listed I borrowed from the library and showed to my Dad. He's already started the process and says it's a winner. And then they gave me the last book for Christmas. I need to get my supplies and hopefully we will be having fresh bread within the next few weeks.

Technical Theater for Nontechnical People- OMG this book. I keep saying this needs to be required reading for everyone at our University. And I don't just mean in our department or the performing arts school. I mean the whole damn University! One of our biggest headaches is that people don't quite get what we do, and this book spells it out in layman's terms. Granted it does need some updating. Things like Polaroids and such are replaced with digital photos and other technology but the gist of the argument is there. And it was about $3 for the Kindle version.

Gunn's golden rules : life's little lessons for making it work-I picked this one up on a whim one day. I've only heard of Project Runway (we still don't have cable or Netflix or the like. I know...we're Luddites), so I was vaguely aware of Tim Gunn. I have to say that his emphasis on hard work and manners is a breath of fresh air, especially coming from the world of 'reality' TV. I don't remember it being anything extremely profound but a nice light read.

Vader's Little Princess- This was this year's father's day gift to Daddy from Little Miss. Last year he received Darth Vader and Son from Little Dude. These are great fun if you are a Star Wars fan and a parent.

The Last Unicorn- I stumbled upon this fabulous graphic novel completely by accident. The Last Unicorn is one of the stories that symbolizes my childhood for me. Then consider my shock and horror when I discovered that my husband was completely unaware of it. How could any child of the 80's not have seen The Last Unicorn. It is iconic 80's childhood along with The Secret of NIMH, The NeverEnding Story The Dark Crystal, or .. but I digress. The graphic novel is wonderful. I keeps much of the feel of the movie, while being all it's own. The only thing I miss is the unicorns crashing in the crests of the waves...not something a static image quite captures.

I can't remember much beyond that. I know there were a few others.I'm not sure if I should add the myriad of children's books I have read over the last year. Perhaps in another post.

I caved....

How's this for something new in the new year:

I now can also be found on Twitter at  @Gothknits

(I always said I'd wait until I got a smartphone to do that. There is no smartphone on the horizon for a long, long time so I just went for it.)

Friday, January 03, 2014

Snow and sickness

My love has the flu. And we're not talking a stomach flu, but the influenza flu. He's been close to unconscious for the last few days. I have a feeling he'll be getting his flu shot next year. And speaking of flu shots, we are having a hell of a time getting one for Little Miss. With my own medical issues of late I completely dropped the ball on this one. In the past it wasn't an issue because she had midyear checkups that fell during vaccination season. Now she only goes around her birthday...in March. And when we did call our doctor was out of the vaccine. No biggie....(or so we thought). Little Dude got his at the Minute Clinic several years ago when he was close to the same age. Well, they've changed the rules and they don't do it for kids under 5. And neither does anyone else. The entire practice our doctor belongs to is out of the vaccine. We are at a loss. Especially since she needs it to remain in daycare. Tomorrow I think we'll be calling the local children's hospital to see what our options are.

At the same time we're all at home today with work and school being cancelled on the account of snow. Little Dude had early dismissal yesterday and spent the afternoon with me at work, until we were cut early too. Somehow I missed the announcement about daycare closing early and I was late in getting Little Miss. (yeah the year is starting out like that) So another day home is nice, especially since it means I can take care of the hubby but it also means a day behind on the show.

It was too cold for me to shovel last night with the windchill in the negatives. I put off going out this morning and then was greeted with a wonderful surprise. My neighbor saw my FB post about my husband's bout with the flu and kindly snow-blowed the whole driveway for us. I only had to do the path and around the cars. I'm making that man a cake.

And so today I tackled the dismantling of Christmas. I have some lovely new ornament storage boxes that my step-mother gave me. There is one for each of the kids for the ornaments they have either made or been given. Then there is my collection. I did a big purge last year and now I was able to consolidate several boxes. I inherited a large collection of the old school glass bulb style ornaments when prop storage cleared out years ago. I'm a sucker for vintage ornaments and I hate seeing perfectly good items being tossed in the dumpster. That's also why we currently own about 10,000 white Christmas lights. 

 I could make our house look like this without spending a dime.

What I really want now is a new tree. Yes, we are fake tree people. We have been for years. I can't bring myself to kill a tree every year and I don't have the property to plant one every year. and ore mess in my house is the last thing I need. Plus, with our fireplace I can't risk the fire hazard. My dad is a retired firefighter and it is in my blood to avoid such risks. Besides our Evil-Genius cat insists on drinking the water and getting sap into her fur. And with all my childhood memories of tree disasters, I'd rather stick with one I know will stand up. The only thing I miss is the smell, and Yankee Candle has that covered.  Our current tree I bought in 1999 when I worked at a certain craft and fabric store over the holiday season. With my employee discount and the end of season markdown, I got the tree for $17.50. That tree owes us nothing. Now I want one that is pre-lit because dealing with the on and off of the lights on the tree is probably my least favorite part. Perhaps next year....unless I stumble upon a fabulous deal. The trick is that most of our ceilings are only 7'6". And my amazing, beloved, vintage tree-topper is a good 10 inches tall. Shorter trees are harder to find.  I may have to come up with another way to make use of the topper and go for a taller tree. 

In the meantime, Christmas is getting sorted and packed away for another year. And I have an empty corner of my living-room to fill. I did a mass rearranging of furniture to be able to have the tree in the living-room this year. Now that corner is currently unclaimed. I've also stripped much of the art off the walls to move that around as well. I'll be busy this weekend, that is for sure.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy Calendar Day!


It hardly seems real. I remember saying something last year about 2013 was going to be a better year. Yeah, I won't be saying anything like that this year. It certainly was an interesting year to say the least. It was a year of changes.
  •  I switched MS treatments...twice. The washout periods between drugs were less than pleasant...flare-ups and fatigue being the predominate issues. I also had a nasty withdrawal from another drug.
  •  I designed my first main-stage show. Unfortunately this fell in one of my washout periods and the whole project was less enjoyable and more stress than I expected.
  •  Little Dude started kindergarten and Little Miss has grown from a little toddler to a pre-schooler full of personality. Little Dude has adjusted to 'Big Kid School' very well. His first report card was excellent. He shows an aptitude to math and science and had perfect scores in art. Little Miss was moved up into a higher class back in October. She's speaking more and using more complete sentences. She has no problem expressing her opinion, and boy, does she have opinions.
  • We've made some progress on the house, but no where the amount we had hoped. We've made some big progress in the last week or two that should allow us to really push forward on the main projects.
  • I did make progress in the Big House Purge. There is more to go, but I think I made a pretty good dent in the project. 
  • It was a slow crafting year...I didn't finish much or start that much. The fatigue really left me too tired to focus. I remember sitting there one night and the crochet hook in my hand was just too damn heavy. How sad is that?!? 
  • My goal of getting rid of diapers in the house in 2013 didn't happen...completely. Disposable diapers are gone. Pull-ups are still a part of daily life, but there are a lot more successful potty events. In fact, Little Miss used the potty on her own all Christmas day. 
  • Our first year in the community garden. Despite our wonderful yard, it has a lot of shade. Pretty much there is no part of our yard that has full sun.  Our first year was a learning experience and I think we will try again next year. Hopefully this year's weather will be a bit more cooperative. 
  The time between Christmas and New Year's my job shuts down. They found they save more money by giving us the time off and shutting down the campus (unplugging everything and turning down the heat) than they would by making us come in. Typically I get a lot done during this week, but now that Little Dude is in regular school, he has the same vacation time. Having him home, and some days his sister too, means that projects don't get my full attention. I'm also still not up full steam after only two treatments. I've been dealing with something...I don't know what...depression...fatigue...just general malaise...mixed in with some insomnia. Throw in a healthy dose of anti-social leanings. It's frustrating. I know I could be...should be...accomplishing so much with my time. But I'm not.
  Tomorrow is our return to work and school (if the coming snow storm doesn't cause closings). A new show waits for me and we have to hit the ground running. I'm hoping all that will snap me out of whatever I am in.

   So what am I hoping for in the new year? 
  • That I do well on the treatments again, and I go back to having days where I forget I have MS.
  • Finding some financial stability.
  • Making some major progress on the house. 
  • More success in our garden. 
  • Getting Little Miss into the pre-K at Little Dude's school. This will help me greatly when I have to handle drop-off and pick-up all on my own.
  •  More crafting
  • More cooking and baking
  • Getting the husband to laugh more. 
What am expecting in the new year?
    Nothing. I'm trying to go into this one more open to whatever is going to come.

So let's see what happens.